Cashmere producer bags prize

DR VUYO Mahlati was the big winner at the Eastern Cape’s Female Entrepreneur Awards (FEA) in East London this week. Mahlati, who started Ivili Loboya, a cashmere producer in the industrial town of Ibika in rural Eastern Cape, using fibre made from the local iMbuzi goat won the top producer in processing as well as the highly coveted overall FEA prize. Speaking to the Saturday Dispatch yesterday, she said she believed it was the nerve to revitalise Ibika that made them stand out from the other nominees. “Introducing local processing has great potential for creating employment which in turn makes huge contributions to the development of the local economy. “I also think being the only producer of indigenous cashmere for commercial use sets us apart. We just add value in a different way, we provide a niche fabric of high quali she said. The Ivili Loboya factory is a wool-processing hub that performs wool-sorting and scouring as well as fibre manufacturing and hand spinning of yarns. It also supplies insulation and inner soles for safety shoes. Mahlati said the community engagement element of their factory was another important aspect. “Our work involves sourcing wool locally from 332 small farmers from areas around Mthatha, Sterkspruit, Queenstown, Matatiele and Barkly East, many of them women. “We are also bringing jobs to the rural Eastern Cape as we employ 24 people on a full-time basis, with an additional 30 seasonal sorters, seven weaving cooperatives [which each employ a number of people] and sourced goat fibre,” Mahlati said. She said the biggest challenge they faced starting up in 2012 was capital and infrastructure....

16 women reap their rewards

Sixteen women in agriculture in the Eastern Cape reaped what they had been sowing when they won cash prizes at the Female Entrepreneur awards in East London yesterday.   TRUE TRAILBLAZERS: Eastern Cape rural development and agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane and his head of department , Lumkile Ngada, right, interact with female entrepreneur of the year award nominees ahead of the awards ceremony in East London. Picture: SUPPLIED The 16 were chosen out of 2203 women farmers who were assessed throughout the province. Experts identified farmers who had produced better quality of livestock, wool, vegetables, fruit and poultry. Rural development and agrarian reform MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane, briefing the media prior to the glitzy event, said the top 16 represented commercial trading entities like cooperatives and commercial businesses and sold their produce to formal and informal markets. “These are women who have been in the business, who have established relationships with retailers and have a market for their produce. “We are so pleased with what we have seen and it is very exciting to see how women are doing in the livestock category. “Top categories included best female farm worker, best subsistence producer, top producer processing, commercial producer and a special MEC’s award for an extraordinary woman farmer. “This is a clear indication that the Eastern Cape is the basket for food security in the country and with 4218 registered agricultural entities in the province, 2122 are women-owned entities and 81 commercial farms in the province are owned by women. Qoboshiyane said the farmers took part in several programmes run by the department and in financial management training sponsored...

Agriculture : Opportunities in agro-processing

Innovation in South Africa’s agriculture and agro-processing sector could boost growth    A positive impact on communities In the rolling hills of the deeply rural Eastern Cape of South Africa, a centuries-old tradition is becoming an income generator for local people. The indigenous imbuzi goats, which local people have historically kept for their meat and for ritual purposes, are now providing the hair that is being used to make the country’s first locally produced cashmere. The company behind this unique product is Ivili Loboya. The name means “Wheel of Wool”, and central to this venture is the social entrepreneurial ethos of founder, Dr Vuyo Mahlati. She stresses that the company is conscious of operating within the socioeconomic value chain, combining technological innovation with local practices. The aim is to provide a quality product, and have a positive impact on the community. The company’s new state-of-the-art processing facility is a real boon to the region. It means new permanent and seasonal jobs, income, skills transfer, and training in an area where opportunities are limited and unemployment is rife. Over 300 small farmers – many of them women – collect the soft, fine inner hair of the goat’s coat, which Ivili Loboya buys and processes. Other local people have been trained in various aspects of production, including cleaning, spinning and weaving. Beneficiation doesn’t stop with the processing – the first fashion collection made from the local cashmere was launched earlier this year. And the company has developed its own app to connect the farmers, weavers and others involved in the process. Old favourite, new taste The adjoining Western Cape province is...

Cashmere Queen

Astute businesswoman Vuyo Mahlati is a social entrepreneur with a passion for business in all its forms. She’s currently spearheading Africa’s first cashmere fabric manufacturer What: Ivili Loboya Where: Near Butterworth, Eastern Cape Start-up capital:  R5,7 million Turnover: R30 million Mahlati has several impressive accomplishments to her credit. She’s the Deputy Chairperson of the African Financial Group and was part of the team who devised SA’s National Development Plan. Her most recent venture, Ivili Loboya, produces cashmere from the soft inner hair of local indigenous iMbuzi goats. This work is significant, she explains, because it utilises a natural, sustainable resource owned by communal farmers and provides them with new income streams. “Most importantly, the quality matches that of global cashmere, so we’re proud that as Africans, we’re producing a competitive product. And it’s the right time to be doing this. Our research shows that our continent’s growing middle class is discerning in its fabric choices and looking for natural fibres,” she says. Mahlati’s targeting high-end apparel and decor markets both locally and abroad, while striving towards inclusive value chains that give the rural economy a boost. Ivili Loboya’s debut Dedani Collection comprised woven and knitted textiles, as well as a variety of fabrics, including blends with silk and merino wool. “‘Dedani’ means ‘get out of the way’ in isiZulu. We chose the name because we intend to storm SA’s textile industry, using local natural fibres and grabbing a niche for ourselves in the global luxury fabric market. Source: Destiny Connect, July...

Profile: Dr Vuyo Mahlati

Vuyo at the African Financial Group, of which she is deputy chairperson. In the smart boardroom of Dr Vuyo Mahlati’s Rosebank office in Johannesburg, we’re talking about goats. Specifically, the imbuzi goats that are indigenous to the Eastern Cape and other parts of the country, and that have historically been kept for ritual purposes and for their meat. Now, they’ve become a source of income for rural people, thanks to Vuyo’s company, Ivili Loboya, which has produced South Africa’s first cashmere by processing the soft, fine inner hair of the coats of these goats. Ivili Loboya recently launched its Dedani collection, a line of clothes made of cashmere harvested from these goats, and spun, woven and processed in rural Eastern Cape using natural dyes. These natural dyes were sourced from leaves, fruits, bark and flowers to create the collection’s palette of earthy tones, such as ochre, bone, nut, marula and wild peach. The fabrics are visual evocations of nature, as well as spiritual and ancestral imagery. This venture is the culmination of some of Vuyo’s many interests, her history and influences: growing up in the Eastern Cape, her mother who was a shepherdess and cultivated Vuyo’s interest in farming, her passion for employment creation and empowerment, her creativity and her studies in the field of development economics. Fundamentally, all her choices have been governed by one thing: to drive social change. In fact, Vuyo’s CV and life experience would be enough for a couple of women, or a couple of lifetimes. She’s on the International Women’s Forum board of directors, is president of the African Farmers’ Association of South...